Climate Dynamics Seminar

Climate Dynamics Seminar (Meteo 575, 1-2 credits)

Course Syllabus for Spr 2021 

Instructor: Michael E. Mann, Department of Meteorology, 514 Walker Building, 

Meeting Time/Place: Wed 11:15 AM-12:05 PM (529 Walker) 

Office Hours: You are welcome to visit my office for questions during scheduled office hours (Wed 1:00-2:15 PM), or by appointment. You may also email me with questions (please use ""). Responses may be delayed. 


A survey of topics at the forefront of current research in climate dynamics and paleoclimate. Recent research on various climate-related topics will be discussed with some informal presentations from Penn State experts and other guests. 

Course Objectives:

  • Promote critical communication skills when it comes to the both presentation and evaluation of scientific presentations in the climate field.
  • Provide students the experience of being part of a cohort of scholars with similar interests and a common focus in the Climate Science dual-title degree program at Penn State.
  • Gain familiarity with state of the art research into climate dynamics and climate change impacts, including research being conducted at Penn State. 


Must have taken 400 level coursework in Meteorology & Atmospheric Science/Geosciences/Geography OR obtain approval of instructor. 


Attendance of all lectures is expected, with exceptions as noted below in the syllabus. You are strongly encouraged to participate by asking questions during and/or after the presentation.



The syllabus and other course materials are subject to change. Be sure to check CANVAS announcements regularly for updates in  activities and assignments, modifications in schedule and other course-related notifications. 

Class Requirements:

  • Class requirements: attendance and participation in the discussions as well as brief (roughly 1 page) summaries of the talks/seminars.
  • Seminars are held approximately every other week.
  • Course can be taken for 1 credit or for 2 credits. In the latter case students are required additionally to give a presentation or write a paper on a topic explored during one of the presentations. 


1 Credit:

  • Seminar writeups (50%)
  • Class participation (50%)

2 Credits:

  • Seminar writeups (34%)
  • Class participation (33%)
  • Presentation/paper (33%) 

Letter Grade Cutoffs are as follows:

  • A   94-100%
  • A- 90-94%
  • B+ 87-90%
  • B   84-87%
  • B-  80-84%
  • C+ 77-80%
  • C   70-77%
  • D   60-70%
  • F   < 60% 

Lecture Schedule (tentative and subject to change):

You should regularly check for updates in schedule here: 

To maintain social distancing as much as possible during the novel coronavirus pandemic, seminars will be conducted via Zoom this semester. A hyperlink to the Zoom meeting for each seminar is given in the schedule below in the row corresponding to that seminar. Unless otherwise noted, all seminars are from 11:15am - 12:30pm.

Date Location Speaker/Discussion Leader Topic

  • 27 January Zoom Dr. Sridhar Anandakrishnan Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Penn State Glaciers and Sea Level in a Warming Climate: EESI Contributions to the Field
  • 3 February Zoom Dr. Gregory Jenkins Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, Penn State Climate Justice as the Intersection of Climate Science, Environmental Justice, and Social Justice
  • 17 February Zoom Dr. Kate Freeman Geosciences, Penn State TBA - paleoclimate/biogeochemistry
  • 24 February Zoom Dr. Alan Taylor Geography, Penn State TBA - fire/climate relationships
  • 3 March Zoom Dr. Jose Fuentes Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, Penn State Arctic climate change and trace-gas cycles
  • 10 March Zoom Dr. Alfonso Mejia Civil and Environmental Engineering, Penn State A data-driven framework to operationalize a city's resilience to climate-induced supply shocks
  • 24 March Zoom Dr. Rebecca Bird Anthropology, Penn State Climate, Landscape Diversity, and Food Sovereignty in Indigenous Australia
  • 14 April Zoom Dr. Kristina Douglass Anthropology, Penn State An oral history project and its ties to climate adaptation in southwest coastal Madagascar *Given in cooperation with Rock Ethics Institute colloquium series*
  • 21 April Zoom Dr. Erica Smithwick Geography, Penn State Envisioning a Climate Consortium: What is a University's Role in Combatting Climate Change? 

If you are interested in speaking, please contact Danny Brouillette (danny.brouillette AT 

Academic Integrity Statement:

This course follows the Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting other's work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other student's papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students." 

Course Copyright:

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws. 

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy. 

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website (

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. 


This course abides by the Penn State Attendance Policy E-11:,

and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35:

Please also see Illness Verification Policy:, and Religious Observance Policy: Students who miss class for legitimate reasons will be given a reasonable opportunity to make up missed work, including exams and quizzes.  Students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel in the case of illness or injury and should use their best judgment on whether they are well enough to attend class or not; the University Health Center will not provide medical verification for minor illnesses or injuries. Other legitimate reasons for missing class include religious observance, military service, family emergencies, regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities, and post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews).  Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student Care and Advocacy for help:  Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form available from the Registrar's Office:, at least one week prior to the activity. 

Weather Delays:

Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at:

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff.  Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated ( and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage

Counseling and Psychological Services:

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.  Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS):

Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript. 

Military Personnel:

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made. 

Disruptive Behavior:

Behavior that disrupts normal classroom activities will not be tolerated, in accordance with Items 9 and 14 in the Student Code of Conduct


In the case of an emergency, we will follow the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Critical Incident Plan (  In the event of an evacuation, we will follow posted evacuation routes and gather at the Designated Meeting Site.  Evacuation routes for all EMS buildings are available at  For more information regarding actions to take during particular emergencies, please see the Penn State Emergency Action Guides

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework.  For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct and Prevention & Response website. 

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see: